New Acquisition Formats

This NAB, we’ll see some of the newest formats: JVC’s HDV (I say “JVC’s HDV” since as of this writing, JVC is the only manufacturer with HDV hardware), Panasonic’s DVCPRO-based P2, and Sony’s XDCAM. For those of you who have been in a cave since last NAB, a quick tutorial and update:


It’s HD at under $3,000 street price...that’s why people attend the HDV Roadshow that I teach with Government Video editor Mark J. Pescatore. While JVC’s consumer GY-HD1 and professional JY-HD10U camcorders are the only HDV-format camcorders currently available (JVC also has an HDV deck that will be available this month), they won’t be the format’s only champions for long.

HDV has captured the imagination of digital filmmakers and videographers. There are feature films being shot in HDV and there’s even a CBS series in the works to be shot 3-camera, cutting the production budget from $1.5 million to $150,000.

Canon, JVC, Sharp, and Sony are the original “consortium” members that standardized and agreed on the HDV format last summer. While rumor has it that JVC can’t make enough HD10s, we’re sure to see other offerings soon. An XL-1 HDV from Canon? A DSR-PD170 HDV from Sony? We’ll know more come NAB time in April, but right now, no one is talking...except JVC.

If you’re considering HDV, there are a few things you need to know.

First, HDV gear may look like a high-end DV camcorder (which technically it also is), but it’s HD. So treat the format with respect. Light it carefully--with more pixels on a CCD, each pixel gets less light. It’s not so much ENG as EFP.

Post production can be tricky...and has been the biggest bottleneck. One of the benefits of HDV is that it can be transferred via FireWire to an NLE. Final Cut Pro users have a choice of a variety of shareware products to help make life easier, or there’s the HEURIS Pro Indie HD Toolkit, a series of software tools that lets you bring footage, shot with the HD10 camera, into FCP. The Pro Indie HD Toolkit features three powerful software tools: XtractorHDV import utility, MPEG Power Professional-DTVHD, MPEG-2 encoding software and the XtoHD player utility.

For PC users, there’s AspectHD from CineForm for Adobe Premiere 6.5 (the Premiere Pro version is in the works) which is a realtime high definition video engine Premiere. Aspect HD allows you to edit four or more streams of HD video within Premiere, plus transitions, motion, and color adjustment, all in real time, and on today’s standard fast PCs.

Also from CineForm is Connect HD, a high-performance HD accelerator for Windows-based NLEs. Connect HD allows you to capture content directly from HDV camcorders and DVHS decks in full HD resolution. You can then edit in full HD resolution using any video application that supports HD resolution. Finally, you can export to any format your video application provides.


The industry is waiting for more from Panasonic on P2, the DVCPRO-based solid-state memory media format. We’re also waiting for the cost of memory to come down. P2 isn’t really a new format as much as a new medium for DVCPRO...a medium with no moving parts and instant nonlinear access.

As we’ve reported before, Panasonic has kept P2 in the headlines with integration agreements. Pinnacle will integrate P2 within its Vortex networked news systems, Liquid editing systems, Team Sports solutions, MediaStream servers, and Palladium Store shared storage systems.

Quantel will offer seamless P2 compatibility with its generationQ editing and server systems for more efficient workflow.

Last NAB, Panasonic was the talk of the town; this NAB, Panasonic has to put its money where its mouth was last year.


Sony’s much-anticipated XDCAM professional optical disc system won’t be ready for delivery until next month, but from what we’ve seen, the new MPEG IMX/DVCAM format (which, like P2, is more of a new recording medium than a new format) will be hot. The reason for the delay of the instant nonlinear system? The complexity of incorporating both high- and low-resolution proxy video, metadata, and MFX wrappers within a single operating system. But if XDCAM delivers on all of its promises since NAB2003, the wait will be worth it.

Sony has been promoting pre-production XDCAM camcorders with promotional DVDs showing the gear in high G-force situations where tape just can’t go. The image from XDCAM is rock solid.

The format and its gear is impressive, so much so that folks just can’t wait to put their hands on a camcorder...and shake the living daylights out of it while in record mode.